NEW DELHI, May 3:
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to revisit its COVID-19 vaccine pricing policy, saying it would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said as of date, the manufacturers have suggested two different prices, a lower price which is applicable to the Centre and a higher price which is applicable to the quantities purchased by state governments.
The apex court said that compelling state governments to negotiate with manufacturers on grounds of promoting competition and making it attractive for new vaccine manufacturers will result in a serious detriment to those in the age group of 18 to 44 years, who will be vaccinated by state governments.
The social strata of this age group also comprises persons who are Bahujans or belong to other underprivileged and marginalised groups, like many in the other population age groups. They may not have the ability to pay.
“Whether or not essential vaccines will be made available to them will depend upon the decision of each state government, based on its own finances, on whether or not the vaccine should be made available free or should be subsidised and if so, to what extent. This will create disparity across the nation. The vaccinations being provided to citizens constitute a valuable public good,” the bench said. The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat said, discrimination cannot be made between different classes of citizens who are similarly circumstanced on the ground that while the Central Government will carry the burden of providing free vaccines for the 45 years and above population, state governments will discharge the responsibility of the 18 to 44 age group on such commercial terms as they may negotiate. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, May 3: